Legislation & Regulation

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Legislation & Regulation

Defra issues 3 new general licences to control pest bird species

Three new general licences for killing certain birds have been issued by Defra, extending the number of species that can be shot without having to apply for an individual licence.  These new licences extend the number of birds and range of circumstances under which lethal control is permitted without the need for an individual licences.

The new licences will allow users to control certain species of wild birds in order to:

  • conserve other wild birds, flora or fauna
  • preserve public health or public safety
  • prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables and fruit (GL36)

The bird species covered  by GL36 are carrion crow, jackdaw, magpie, feral pigeon, rook, woodpigeon, Canada goose, Egyptian goose, monk parakeet and ring-necked parakeet.

Key dates in May and June 2019

31 May – Deadline to make certain changes to a BPS application received by 15 May without a penalty

10 June – Deadline for late BPS applications, or late amendments, with penalties. Any applications or supporting evidence received after this date will not be accepted

30 June – End of crop diversification ‘cropping’ period and end of Ecological Focus Area (EFA) periods for fallow and nitrogen fixing crops

New Environment Agency hotline for exempt abstractors

The Environment Agency has established a free hotline and bookable appointments service to help previously exempt abstractors complete their New Authorisation application forms by 1 October, in order to meet the deadline of 31 December 2019. The dedicated team will be supporting New Authorisations applicants by:

• answering any specific questions they may have
• helping them decide if they need to apply for a licence
• talking them through completing their application forms
• arranging a convenient call-back time to take them through their application

The hotline and bookable appointments service can be accessed by calling our normal National Customer Contact Centre service on 03708 506506 and asking for New Authorisations, or by email via enquiries@environment‐agency.gov.uk

Advice on Farming Rules for Water

Advice on how to manage fertiliser, manure and soil to prevent run-off, leaching and erosion and meet the new Farming Rules for Water are available on the Gov.uk website.

Changes to general licences for bird control

Natural England is revoking three general licences for controlling certain wild birds as of Thursday 25 April 2019.  These licences cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons.  The new general licences will be available from 29 April 2019 and will cover the majority of circumstances previously covered by the revoked general licences and ensure landowners can continue to take necessary action, whilst also taking into account the needs of wildlife.

If you need to act within the law before the general licences are ready you can apply for an individual licence on the Gov.uk website.

The action is the first stage of a planned review of general and class licences, which will be completed this year.  For further information please visit the Defra website.

Respond to planned tenancy reforms

Plans have been put forward by Defra for a radical shake-up of agricultural tenancy legislation in England and Wales, with a key aim of making it easier for people to enter and exit the industry.  Consultations have been launched and the deadline for responses is 2 July 2019.
The papers set out options that ministers hope will create opportunities for new entrants, who they say will bring new skills, ideas and innovation to the sector.  The proposals are broadly based on the work of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG), which made a series of recommendations to government back in 2017.

To respond to the Defra consultation please visit this page.


Storage and spreading of manures post Brexit

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, farmers may find themselves in a situation where they face added pressures on the storage and land-spreading of organic manures, digestate, waste and potentially waste milk.  The NFU has been informed by the Environment Agency (EA) that current regulations on the storage and land-spreading of these materials will remain in place as it currently stands unless further notice is given by Defra or the EA.

Have you registered for Tax Digital?

The government’s new digital tax initiative due is due to be introduced on 1 April 2019, but according to a Freedom of Information request it appears that over 1 million businesses are still to register. This factsheet from Hub Business Supporter Ellacotts will give you further information on the new initiative and whether it applies to your business.

Increases to National Minimum Wage on 1 April

On 1 April 2019 the National Minimum Wage will increase:

workers aged 21–24 — from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour
workers aged 18–20 — from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour
workers aged 16–18 — from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour
apprentice rate — from £3.70 to £3.90 per hour

The National Living Wage (NLW) rate for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour.

Please note that these increases are not optional and employers found to be in breach of the regulations will be subject to penalties and payments in arrears to affected employees.


Farmers are warned about new welding regulations

Farmers are being warned about new rules to reduce exposure to welding fumes following a recent reclassification by Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer.  As a result, HSE announced in February that with immediate effect, it is strengthening its enforcement expectations for welding fumes on the basis that general ventilation does not give sufficient control.  HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without suitable exposure control measures being in place, regardless of the duration.  To read the full article please visit this page.

Farming Rules for Water

The new Farming Rules for Water will be enforceable from 2 April 2019.  The rules standardise good farming practices that many farmers are already demonstrating following on from the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice. The rules are separate from cross-compliance. Full details of the new rules are available here.

EA position on flexing of water abstraction in 2019

The Environment Agency has published a document setting out how it will approach the flexing of abstraction conditions in 2019 in order to respond to a dry spring or summer.  You can download the document below.  You will need Acrobat Adobe to read the pdf document.


Key dates for BPS, CS and ES

The Rural Payments Agency has put together a timeline of the important dates for 2019 to be aware of for Basic Payments Scheme, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship.   The dates and further information are available on the RPA website.  Alternatively you can download the calendar here.

BPS and Greening requirements for 2019

In common with previous years, the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will run for the full calendar year (1 January to 31 December 2019). Those who are intending to claim BPS for 2019 will be required to comply with the BPS requirements for the entire year, despite the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) in March 2019. This includes cross compliance and greening requirements.

Download the Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2019

The new guide to Cross Compliance rules in England for 2019 can be downloaded here.

There are no confirmed policy changes to the rules for 2019.  However, please be aware that for SMR 1 Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) land that was in an NVZ for the first time in 2017, transitional arrangements have been in place to not meet some of the NVZ rules. These arrangements come to an end in July 2019, when the requirement to meet all the NVZ rules starts on 31 July 2019. For more information read SMR 1: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones on page 39 of the guide.

Updated information on riparian rights

Updated information on your responsibilities and rules to follow for watercourses on or near your property, and permissions you need to do work around them, have been placed on the Gov.uk website. Visit the link below to view the information.

Website: Open Website

New rules for fertilizer management to protect water quality

From April 2018 all farmers in England will need to follow a new set of farming rules for water. New regulations will now be made which will give these rules legal force from then. The rules will:
• promote good practice in managing fertilisers and manures through eight rules covering planning and use, storage and application of fertilisers and manures and soil erosion measures
• encourage land managers to take reasonable precautions to prevent diffuse pollution from runoff or soil erosion
• require soil tests at least every 5 years on cultivated land
• protect land within 5 metres of watercourses from significant soil erosion by preventing poaching by livestock.
Further details can be found on the website below.

Contact: None
Telephone: None
Email Address: None
Website: Open Website

Enhanced TB control measures

From November 2017 enhanced TB control measures will be introduced to reduce the risk posed by inconclusive skin test reactors. This follows on from a consultation held in 2016.
All inconclusive reactors (IRs) in the High Risk Area (HRA) and Edge Area (and in TB breakdown herds in the Low Risk Area) that have a negative result on re-testing will remain restricted for the rest of their life to the holding in which they were found. The only permitted off movements for such animals will be to slaughter (either directly or via an Approved Finishing Unit).

Warwickshire re-classified as fully in the Edge Area for TB

Following a public Defra TB consultation held in 2016, and an informal consultation held in October 2017, Defra has announced enhanced cattle measures in the Edge Area; which will take effect from January 2018.
The changes from January 2018 include re-classification of Edge Area counties. The following part Edge, part High Risk Area split counties will be re-classified as fully in the Edge Area
Warwickshire and Oxfordshire
East Sussex, Derbyshire and Cheshire

Contact: None
Telephone: None
Email Address: None
Website: Open Website

Government announces plans to introduce trickle irrigation licensing

Defra has announced plans to end water abstraction licensing exemptions in England and Wales. It is expected that these changes will be made shortly, opening a two year abstraction licence application window on 1 January 2018.
It is estimated that 5,000 existing operations will require an abstraction licence for the first time and expected that most applicants will successfully secure abstraction licences that meet their historic needs. Exempt operators such as trickle irrigators will have two years to submit their licence application with effect from 1 January 2018. The licence determination process must be completed within five years of the application window opening.

Reminder on water abstraction licences

If your current water abstraction licence is due to expire, and you want to continue to abstract, you need to apply for a new licence at least 3 months before the existing licence expires.
For more information on applying for a water abstraction licence, please visit the website below.

Contact: None
Telephone: None
Email Address: None
Website: Open Website

EU vote not to block changes to greening rules

The EU Parliament has voted not to block proposed changes to greening and other elements of BPS rules. The ban on the use of plant protection products on field-based Ecological Focus Area options will therefore come into force. No timescale has been given.

Dewlap tags

Please be reminded that Dewlap tags, which are inserted through the dewlap of cattle, are legally classed as a mutilation (Animal Welfare Act 2006). Using the dewlap tag is therefore illegal and if farms are found to be using these tags at an RPA or APHA inspection it will be considered a rectifiable breach and will incur a penalty.

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Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm

Email: info@ruralhub.org.uk

Registration No: 7026157

Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA

Hub Chairman

Henry Lucas
E: henrylucas76@gmail.com

Rural Hub Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson
E: info@ruralhub.org.uk

Tel: 07780 159291

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Hub Chairman)
Graham Collier (Hub Deputy Chairman)
Paul Rice
Carrie Robbins
Alexandra Robinson
James Walton


Hub Steering Group Members

Luke Ryder, NFU
Mark Dickin, Ellacotts Accountants
Susan Schlee, S2M Marketing
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Mark Meadows, Tithe Farm
Alexandra Robinson, Wright Hassall LLP
Bob Slater, Slater Farm Management Services
Chris Tallis, Tallis Amos Group
Jef Tuyn, Agricultural Consultant
Matt Willmott, King's Seeds
Jon Slee, Abbey Farm


The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

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